From the upcoming Romans book. If you are interested in donating to the effort:
Rom 1:1-7 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) (3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Paul says he is called to be an apostle and separated unto the Gospel of God. We are separated to God Himself and separated for Christ. We are sanctified. However, this is separation “unto the Gospel.” You can’t know Christ apart from the Gospel. So the Gospel itself separates you from everything that differs to the truth. In Galatians, Paul says he was separated from his mother’s womb. I sometimes wonder about that. Jeremiah said the same thing. There were people in the Bible who were set apart from birth for their calling. Paul had to be “born again”. He had to go from being Saul to being Paul. Yet He recognizes himself as separate from birth for this role.
This is the sovereignty of God. How does Paul know that he was separated from birth? If you look back at your life, you might see God’s hand. You see how he arranged everything and how you’re uniquely equipped to do what you’re doing in the kingdom. There are natural abilities He is enhancing, and there is a certain kind of background (both negatively and positively). The negative things you go through before you’re saved that cause you to become a certain kind of person that becomes weak enough to rely on Jesus. Also, your training and education plays a part.
Paul, Daniel and Moses are the “smartest” people that the scripture tells us about with the exception of Solomon. The interesting thing about these three is that they were trained in everything. Moses was trained in Pharoah’s house so would have been completely familiar with all of the occultic secrets of the mysteries in addition to God’s administration. It’s not that knowing the occult was something he used, but he knew the enemy’s strategies.
Daniel was trained and eventually became the head of the astrologer wise-men. Consider how the magi would have known to follow the star to Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. How did they know? Well they were Persians, descendents from the mystery school that Daniel was eventually the head of. He was put over all the astrologers and he trained them in the prophetic program of God. He converted at least a number of them to seek the Messiah and to know the signs. Daniel knew the mysteries of Babylonian system as well as God’s prophetic program. That just shows that your whole background is useful to God.
Paul is the same way. He was trained in all the Greek philosophy and in the height of the Jewish religion and then God took him to heaven (literally) and gave him a real training in Christ. So God prepares vessels, and he prepared Paul in a unique way that he recognized. He recognized that he was uniquely qualified to do what he was doing in the way he was doing it, and he recognized God’s hand in his life
from the beginning, when he was “separated from his mothers womb” according to Galatians. We should all have this kind of sense, that when it comes to God’s purposes, He foreknew us.
It’s not just that he knew that in 1993 I was going to “choose Him”. He arranged the boundaries of my habitation and the season in which I lived, the generation I lived in, the knowledge I was equipped with, the way I loved the read, the fact that I loved sci-fi. I read sci-fi for years which opened my mind so that I could see things in God’s program. He also arranged difficulties and problems that brought me to my knees and eventually made me the kind of person that could believe in Jesus and trust in Him. I see that He is sovereign in my life. That’s what it means to be “separated unto the Gospel of God.”
Rom 1:2 The Gospel which was promised beforehand by the prophets in the Holy Scriptures.
The Gospel in some senses is not something new. In the Scriptures, what we do have from the very beginning is the promise of the Seed. That Seed is the Son of God. That is what it means when he says “he was made the Seed of David according to the flesh.” This is all according to promises. The Gospel was promised in the scripture concerning Jesus Christ our Lord who was made of the Seed of David according to the flesh.
We already take for granted that He is the Seed of the Woman in Genesis 3, and the Seed of Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, 17, 18, and in 2 Samuel 7, He is the Seed of David. All of these titles speak of Covenants. The covenant that he made with the Seed of David is that “I will be to Him a Father and JHE will be to me a Son” and that He will possess the throne of David and inhabit it forever. The throne of course is in the land, which includes the promise of Abraham regarding the land which was to be an inheritance for Abraham’s seed (which is ultimately Christ) and that includes the promise of the Seed of the Woman. He has to be born into humanity in order to be the seed of David. The title, seed of David is the culmination of all these promises, climaxing in the revelation that He is going to be a man and He is going to be the Son of God, and He will have a Kingdom with an everlasting throne.
The prophets promised this all through the scriptures. The first prophet was Abel. Jesus told us that when he said that the blood of all the prophets would be required from that generation, from righteous Abel to Zecharaiah, whom they slew “between the altar and the temple” (Lk 11:50). The altar was with Abel and the temple was with Zecharaiah, and every single one of the prophets was slain in Jerusalem for their testimony. Who was he slain by? Cain. And why was he slain? Because his deeds were righteous. What deeds were those? He offered blood for sin. Why did he do this? Because he lived by faith in the promise. What was the promise? The promise was the Gospel. At that time, it was the seed of the Woman. He believed that the seed was connected to blood. He believed in God’s promise regarding the seed through which salvation would come, and he knew that the only way he could stand before God and receive the promise was to be covered by animal skin. Adam and Eve would have told him this, and he saw the garments that God covered them with. This vision shaped his life so that he became a shepherd. He was separated unto the Gospel by becoming a Shepherd and doing something that seemed “useless”. He was a shepherd so that he could offer the firstling of the flock at an Altar. Jesus says there was an altar there, as does the apocryphal Old Testament book, Jasher. There was an Altar at the gate of Eden where they would offer their gifts, and both Cain and Abel knew that an offering was required. Abel understood it had to be blood. Abel offered the works of the flesh; the toil of his labour from the ground that God had cursed, from the sweat of his brow. All of this was a product of the curse. He offered that which was cursed to God and it was rejected and it was offensive. I kind of look at it like it might as well have been a pig offered in the Holiest place.
These guys knew what the were doing. He hated Abel because Abel’s deeds were righteous. How did he know that Abel was accepted? Fire would have come down on the altar and consumed Abel’s gifts, which were the firstling of the flock with the blood and the fat portion. How did they know all that? There was apparently more told to them than just what we see in Genesis. Genesis is a summary but there was more communicated that God did not preserve in the testimony. Abel was the first prophet, who believed in the Seed and the blood, and he didn’t take the way of the flesh or the works of the flesh. He took the testimony of Christ. That was the Gospel at that time.
Galatians 3 tells us that the “Scripture preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham” (Gal 3:8). There weren’t any scriptures at the time of Abraham. But there was the Word of God, who was a Person who actually appeared to people in the Old Testament and spoke to them. That was Christ. He promised Abraham that of his seed all the nations would be blessed. That seed, according to Galatians 3, is Christ (Gal 3:16). God made a covenant with that seed, called the “everlasting covenant.”
So we see the elaboration and progressive revelation of the promise. First he is the seed of the Woman who is going to crush Satan’s head, and atone for the sins and bring them back to God so they can have the access to the Tree of Life again. Then, Abraham we know is going to be multiplied. Christ, the seed of Abrhaham was multiplied in resurrection. As he said in John 12:24, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth many grains”. This speaks of His death and resurrection, through which He was multiplied. All of the believers now who receive Him receive His life, and become His multiplication and His increase, the harvest of the Seed that was sown through death and resurrection. This is the Body of Christ, the Church. So this multiplication is in the promise to Abraham. The Seed is Christ and the promise according to Galatians 3 is that we would receive the “promise of the Spirit” (Gal 3:14). The Spirit is just the life of Christ to be received by the believers in whom Christ is multiplied. Then, as the Seed of David, it is elaborated further that He would possess the throne and be the Son of God.
So the Gospel is clear about the Person of Christ. The Gospel was known by the prophets who had the testimony of Christ. Peter say that the Prophets “searched and inquired” regarding what manner the Spirit of Christ in them was testifying of the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. That was the Gospel. They knew that He would suffer and be glorified, and looked forward to it and wrote of it in the Old Testament. So that’s what Paul is saying: the Gospel that was promised before hand through the prophets concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, who was made the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the Resurrection from the dead.
Here we have His divinity and His humanity. He is the Son of God, and was the Son of God in Eternity Past, but then He incarnated. He took on the seed of Abraham and took upon Himself flesh and blood that He might be like us. In order to lead us into Glory He had to become like us and take on Human nature. AS such He was the Seed of David, the heir to all of these promises. Yes He was Son of God in Eternity past, but now HE is the the Son of Man, the Seed of David. But then through resurrection He is declared to be the Son of God with Power.
If He was already the Son of God, why now does He need to be declared the Son of God? This is talking about His humanity being uplifted and glorified to share the status that He had in His divinity in Eternity past. So the scripture says that the Word became Flesh. This was the one who was in Eterniety past who stepped into time and space, took on flesh, was born of a virgin, lived among us as the Son of Man, and because He was righteous, when He died He was raised from the dead in His humanity. His humanity was glorified, or as the Greek Orthodox would say “divinized” or “deified” and He was raised up as a Man and now has all authority in Heaven on Earth as a man as the representative and Head of a New, Recreated Human race that shares His authority. This authority is not just on Earth. Adam was given dominion over the Earth, over the fish of the sea and all living creatures, but this Man has dominion in Heaven and on Earth. He has been seated “far above all principality and power” at the right hand of God, so that Angels worship Him. So this Man has been exalted to the highest place, and He has been given a Name which is above every name and at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth.
Why did He do that? Hebrews 2 tells tat because the Children were flesh and blood He partook of flesh and blood so that He could become the Captain of Salvation to lead many sons into Glory. He became like us so that He make us like Him. That is what we look forward to as the Church. We have a heavenly destiny with a heavenly Christ and we will be conformed to His image and glorified so that He is not just the only begotten son of God but He is the firstborn among many Brethren. We see this in Romans 8. That is the plan of God.
When Paul says He was made of the “seed of David according to the flesh” this refers to the fact that He was given a body to carry out a certain Purpose. He expressed the attributes of God in human virtues so that He could say “when you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father”. He put Him on display – in humanity. This is a mystery that is so profound to think about.
The angels knew the Son of God in Eternity past as the Ancient of Days who sat upon the throne in unapproachable light surrounded by cherubim who flew around Him crying “holy, holy, holy” (Rev 4:8). They knew His power, glory and majesty. They knew Him in creation and rejoiced in His works (Job 38:7). Then He became a man and exhibited a whole new set of virtues that they had never seen in God. Mercy, tenderheartedness, weeping, compassion, tenderheartedness, intimacy, love, service, suffering, forebearance and then of course in His death enduring mocking and spitting and crucifixion.
Can you imagine being an angel knowing who that is and watching Him go through all of that? Every moment of that would have been completely “mindblowing” – from His incarnation to His death, for the angels this would have been so mysterious and such a revelation. Then, we have received Him who have not seen Him. We don’t know His glory in the way the angels do. We haven’t seen Him on the throne physically, but we love Him and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). For that reason, the angels long to inquire into this salvation. To them it is fascinating. “How can these “blindfolded” people who have never seen this One love Him so intimately in a way that we can’t understand, and know the interior of His heart, know His affections and His compassion and His mercy and His tenderness in a way that we don’t have any need of, because we’re so powerful as angels?”
We know God in a deeper way than they do and as we learn of God in Christ and experience Him, He is being put on display in the Church so that the Angels see aspects of God that they would never know otherwise. According to Ephesians 3:10, the Eternal Purpose of God is that the Church would put the multifarious wisdom of God on display before the angels. It’s really deep what God is doing and He is accomplishing so much at once in the unfolding and revealing of Himself by sending His Son, who was “made the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”